Monday, July 20, 2015

Name that tomb

Some time back I did a little post on Lisbon's Cemetery of Pleasures, which is the best cemetery name, like, evah.

My goal was to document a pyramid mausoleum I saw there, the Jazigo dos Duques de Palmela -- which is loaded with Masonic symbolism -- but I didn't have a decent photo.  I did a little search and found one; the guy who snapped it, Luis Morgado, kindly agreed to let me use it.

So, I was delighted to hear from Luis again the other day, about the time I did my post which took a look at renovations at Toulouse's Terre Cabade cemetery, with it's Egyptian Revival gate and gatehouse, as well as a quick peep at the humbler pyramid tombs of Charles Piazzi Smyth and Charles Taze Russell.  Luis is traveling in North America and taking pictures; he did a great set in Chicago's Graceland Cemetery, in search of the tombs of some of America's greatest architects.  It's a wonderful cemetery with some impressive funerary architecture, if you're into that sort of thing, which I am!

I'm just gonna cut-and-past Wikipedia on this one:
Well-known Chicago brewer Peter....Schoenhofen's family mausoleum was designed by Richard E. Schmidt, a Chicago School architect, in 1893....The mausoleum is internationally famous and is one of the most photographed mausoleums at Graceland Cemetery.
The Schoenhofen Pyramid Mausoleum is a steep sided tomb designed, like many of the monuments at Chicago's Graceland Cemetery, in the Egyptian Revival style....The pyramid's design combines both Egyptian (the sphinx) and Christian (the angel) symbols.  Regardless, the American Institute of Architects' Chicago guide book called the angel "rather out-of-place".  The door to the pyramid is styled after the gateways at Karnak, in Egypt....A bronze molding of bundled reeds surrounds the door and the door's themselves feature cast lotus designs with coiled asps around the handles.
While the Schoenhofen Mausoleum is a pyramid, and referred to as such, its design is only Egyptian-inspired....There are several historical works that are considered related to the Schoenhofen Mausoleum. The Roman funerary pyramid of Caius Cestius is considered a historical predecessor to the Schoenhofen Mausoleum.  Perhaps more closely related are the pyramid by Louis Carrogis Carmontelle at Parc Monceau in Paris and a cenotaph by Antonio Canova that was erected as the tomb of Maria Christina in Vienna at the Augustinian Church.
As far as I can make out, neither Schoenhofen nor Schmidt were Freemasons, so I suppose this is really just a part of the larger Egyptian Revival rather than a nod towards esotericism.  Still, it's an impressive mausoleum, and it was nice of Luis to think of LoS.  And in that there's a nifty anecdote....Apparently Luis tried to send me these photos a couple of weeks ago, but his email was returned -- twice.  Then, the day after I posted about pyramid tombs, he saw the post and sent the email again, and it came through. 

I guess the universe needed to let me know something.  Still trying to figure out what that might be....


  1. Oh man, you should talk to Luis Morgado about coming to Minneapolis. Architect Harry Wild Jones, most famous for his rock star name, second most famous, at least for me, for the water tower by my house that looks like something out of Lord of the Rings and was, in the 50s, hit by a wing falling off a plane that had hit a flag pole in a veteran's cemetery, after which the plane crashed down and took out a house near me in a pretty horrific plan crash in Minneapolis back when that kind of thing was more common; well, back to the point, HWJ designed the Lakewood Memorial Chapel, the red-domed Byzantine-style chapel where Jones is buried and which is crazy gorgeous with amazing tile work...

    Lakewood Memorial Chapel:
    Image of Harry Wild Jones:
    Plane crash report:
    Washburn Water Tower:

    1. I see what you mean about the LOTR-vibe of the water tower. That's pretty crazy, the knight posed in front of it. I can't imagine anyone building something like that these days, except maybe Disney World. Kind of an extravagance! That cemetery chapel is very nice though, very appealing. I checked a link or two on that sight and there's a pyramid mausoleum not so different from the one in this post, but it doesn't have an angel or sphinx. The steep sides and door, however, are very similar. Wonder why they went for a steeper angle as opposed to a more equilateral form? Precedent, probably....

    2. What an interessant story. I have been in Minneapolis some months ago and I missed it all. I will return there for sure and the powerful water tower will be on my route. Your clues about Architect Harry Wild Jones took me to an unbelievable coincidence about the water tower, its eagles and wings. Look at that: "No doubt intrigued by the artwork, local newspapers sought the origins of these figures. One article, entitled "Pioneer Recalls Early Washburn Park Days" recounted Harry Jones's story about building his house in 1887: "when the work of clearing out the underbrush began, the workman [sic] were attacked by a huge eagle; after a struggle, his wing was maimed, he was caught, and measuring seven feet from tip to tip, he was taken to town, where he attracted great interest.". "In later years, as Mr. Jones was designing the new Washburn Park Water Tower, he immortalized this eagle and his struggle with the first settlers by crowning the tower with sculptured eagles, so perched as to keep their eyes on their early home".
      The Gid did you know about this? Is it the Universe bringing all these stories together to send Steve a message?

    3. About the steeper angle of pyramids, I think as you say, it can be partially justified by precedent, because in addition to the ones you checked, we can point that the Cestius pyramid in Rome has the same kind of steeped faces. Furthermore, for practical reasons, this kind of pyramid's proportion is also more convenient: if we have a small piece of land in a cemetery, we can get more useful interior room and more exterior impact. It could also be justified by geometry and mathematics: probably the section or the faces of the pyramid are golden triangles (72º,72º,36º). Who knows?

    4. You know Luis, I'll bet it's a combination of all three: precedent, mathematical harmony and most importantly, an efficient use of the limited space available.

      And wow, what a crazy story about Jones....attacked by an eagle? I wonder if someone was making a little joke?

      Luis, if you do pass back by Minneapolis, you should definitely try to get together with Dave....

  2. That's it! Yes, it would be great to count with an expert on Minneapolis landmarks.

    1. Definitely let me know if you're headed back to Minneapolis, Luis; it'd be fun to get together, although I'm no expert on landmarks, more a local with an eye for the odd.

      I had heard, but forgotten, the story about the eagle, its wounded wing foreshadowing the wing of the plane that hit the watertower! There are a lot of eagles here in Minneapolis, so the story is not inconceivable. We've had a number of strange raptor events at my house (walking distance to the tower), including me thwarting a hawk swooping upon my young son, and an eagle wrestling midair with some hawks over a snake above my house, so these things really happen.

      If I recall correctly, Jones designed several other watertowers here in Minneapolis; as structures necessarily built on highground, they have this omniscience presence, god looking down.

      The cemetery itself is worth a visit for sure. I haven't really explored it and would love to spend some time poking around there--we could do that if you're in town again, Luis. The property abuts several parks including some long-running nature areas that extend out of the city, so deer and coyote occasionally wander into the area even though it's urban, adjacent to Uptown, probably the most densely populated area in the midwest outside of parts of Chicago.

      Anyhow, Luis, lemme know if you're headed this way again! We'll check out Harry Wild Jones. I think he's buried in Lakewood Cemetery. It'd be great to track that down with you.

    2. Hey "The Gid", after your captivating talk about water towers, Jones, eagles and hawks, I am obliged to return to Minneapolis. It would be great to explore some spots with you. Maybe I can get a weekend in 2016. Thanks for that.

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    5. And so the worldwide network of architectural oddities hunters begins.... :)


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